"Appointment booking at GP surgery"

About: Berkshire East PCT

(as the patient),

I recently moved within the same local authority area and consequently changed GPs. My current surgery opens at 8: 30 for appointment booking, which is all handled by phone. I had a number of symptoms which concerned me and which were getting worse, so called at 8: 30 and re-tried until about 9am. I was told that unless my problem was urgent, I would need to wait 3 weeks to see any of the GPs (it's a medium-sized health centre). I didn't feel I could wait that long, so asked for an urgent appointment and was told to call back at 2pm, when urgent appointments are scheduled.

I called at 2pm, again re-dialled until 2: 30pm when I was advised that all the urgent appointments had gone, but one of the GPs would ring me back. I've now been waiting for two and a half hours and am not sure what I need to do if for whatever reason I don't get a call.

My previous surgery (in the same health authority area) had an IVR system where patients could select either urgent appointments, same-day or future appointments up front; obviously you would have to wait longer to see a specific GP or to have an appointment at a specific time, but could generally get an appointment within a couple of days for non-urgent cases. This worked well as it gave patients the flexibility to take a later, routine appointment if they preferred.

It is a concern that my symptoms are quite alarming and that I need advice on how to handle them; happy to have triage over the phone before going to A&E, but it would be useful if I had had this option earlier in the day for an urgent issue.

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